On Tuesday, May 30, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed a bill that legalizes the recreational use, purchase, and possession of marijuana for state residents over the age of 21. The move makes Minnesota the 23rd state to end cannabis prohibition (adult-use marijuana is also legal in Washington, DC).
So, what has Minnesota cannabis legalization changed, and how does the new law affect previous rules around driving while intoxicated (DWI)?
Possession & Consumption of Marijuana
Firstly, it’s important to note that every new rule discussed in this blog post will take effect on August 1. Until that date, all of Minnesota’s existing laws around marijuana will continue to apply as normal.
The new law provides that Minnesotans will be allowed to possess up to two pounds of herbal cannabis in their private residences for personal use, and up to two ounces in public.
If you wish to grow marijuana at home without a license, you can legally keep up to eight flowering plants. Only four of these can be mature at a given time. If you want to cultivate more than this, you’ll need a license from the state.
Sale of Marijuana
Officials are estimating that it will be possible to buy marijuana products from dispensaries within 12-18 months of the introduction of the new law in August. The newly-formed Office of Cannabis Management will be in charge of processing applications, setting out regulations, and issuing licenses for businesses that wish to participate in the adult-use cannabis industry in Minnesota.
Various licensing fees will apply to companies applying to enter the space, depending on the nature and scale of the business in question. Police officers and state employees working on cannabis regulation will not be permitted to apply for licenses.
Minnesota Cannabis Legalization & DWI: Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence of Marijuana
As we detailed in this post, Minnesota law contains a carve-out around marijuana and DWI charges. State law generally prohibits drivers from having any amount of a Schedule I or Schedule II substance (marijuana, at the federal level, is Schedule I) in your system. However, state law exempts cannabis from this rule.
That doesn’t mean driving under the influence of cannabis is legal, though. At present, if a police officer determines that you are unable to safely drive because of marijuana consumption using drug recognition training, you may be charged with a DWI offense.
There is no definitive test for the presence of marijuana that would be equivalent to a breathalyzer for alcohol. However, the new legislation has provided funding for a project to assess the potential for roadside tests that would detect the presence of marijuana using saliva.
The new law provides that you will be able to transport cannabis products in your vehicle as long as they’re in their original, sealed packaging. This means cannabis will be treated in a similar way to alcohol under the open container law.
Previous Cannabis Convictions
Will those with previous cannabis convictions have newly clean records under Minnesota’s new law? This depends on the nature of their offense.
Non-felony marijuana convictions will be automatically expunged under the terms of the legislation. However, more serious cannabis offenses will be considered by a review board on a case-by-case basis. This process will reportedly begin on August 1.
What Are the Federal Laws Around Marijuana?
Cannabis is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), which is enforced by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Schedule I substances are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.
So, despite the change in Minnesota’s laws, it will remain illegal to carry cannabis out of the state or ship it to another state, even if the other state in question also has legal adult-use cannabis. It will also remain illegal to possess cannabis on federal lands, such as national parks and federal courthouses.
Get Help From a Top-Class Minnesota Criminal Defender Today
If you’ve run into trouble with the law, whether because of marijuana, DWI, or another issue, we can help. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation.